Shoulder Shrugs…..

After going through our customary reentry routines Kathy and I sat down to our print matter that had accumulated over the past couple of weeks. I did try to do the techno thing and read online but I love the feel of newsprint on my fingers and of course on the white chair where I do a lot of my reading. Old habits die hard.

If you look at several articles in mags and papers compressed into a short period of time it can be uplifting or overwhelming. Politics,terrorism, the Panama Papers and the plethora of shootings can give one fatigue. My favorite item was about a group of parents at an Easter Egg Roll in Connecticut who pushed the other tots out of the way to ensure their child’s success. Classy.

The typical response might be a shrug of the shoulders. As I thought about this I realized it may convey multiple messages. First and foremost could be a lack of interest. Kind of “I have seen this before and nothing changes.” One could also say it is a symbol of resignation. “What can I say?” How about forgiveness when you get caught raiding the cookie jar? “I really didn’t mean it.” Then we can be all encompassing by ignorance.”Dunno”. If you find yourself raising and lowering your scapula as you read this you are projecting a sometimes involuntary response.

Now shoulders play an important role in who we are and how we project it. If you stand tall and throw them back you are confident and ready to face the world. Girls seem to think it is wonderful to see broad ones in guys that in turn define muscular pecs as the proverbial hunk sheds his shirt. I have never elicited quite that type of reaction. But when you think about it this, it is beyond important in fashion as every suit is well padded at the top. They say it makes you look skinny. I will take their word for it.

On the other hand you can put forth weariness and pressure. Look at Monday night’s basketball game. The Heels went from triumphant to downtrodden in 4.7 seconds. Nova on the other hand morphed from shock to elation, strutting their stuff. At Rockefeller Center one can see Atlas upholding the world on his frame and depending on how you see things he is either beyond cool and strong or ready to buckle if one more catastrophe gets loaded onto his cargo.

The shoulders are really a reflection of what is going on in our lives. One psychologist noted that, “The body reveals what the mind conceals.” This is all wrapped up in the workings of our limbic system. It is the area of the brain around the hypothalamus and it controls our moods,emotions and sentiments. It can cause us to shrug but moreover clench our fists,grind our teeth or cause our face to redden. As I said, this is often autonomic. As cool as we want to appear the cat is already out of the bag.

Consulting Netter’s Textbook of Anatomy which I alway keep in the nightstand, the shoulder is really a fascinating piece of machinery. The various bones and sinew are perfectly matched to pull this way and that. The ball and socket move non stop for decades without even a squirt of oil. Think about that. The limbic system sends a signal and a bunch of very complex maneuvers from lifting a bowling ball to typing on a keyboard to swinging a golf club can take place at this juncture. You and I never give it a thought but the human body is really complex and exciting beyond measure.

We shrug because it was passed down from our ancestors. Cavemen didn’t have a dictionary or thesaurus so they pointed,grunted and yes shrugged. Therein was the primitive form of body language that today conveys all sorts of messages. People have made it a science. When you fold your arms as I am talking, you feel a sense of invasion and you want to ward me off. I guess I would too if I listened to me. If you don’t want to look me in the eye you might be lying. Couples who don’t walk together or hold hands are drifting further apart. Crazy? I think not.

Now you can give me the Cold Shoulder if you want. That can signify you turning your back on me or it might be from medieval times when you were given the cold and not warm part of the meat because you were at the end of the serving line or not looking to be invited back again. Ayn Rand had Atlas Shrugged and we all see Soft Shoulders as we travel down the highway. The femme fatales always give you a winsome look over their shoulder or as Mae West said while batting eyelashes, “Why don’t you come up and see me some time,big boy?” Unfortunately I haven’t heard that one personally but if Kathy reads this there is always hope.

I am going to put my shoulder to the wheel. This hearkens back to the captain planting himself firmly on the deck and grabbing the ship’s wheel with all he had to steer the ship in a torturous gale. I will go the gym and do a whole bunch of exercises to strengthen my upper bod. This will help me avoid getting it replaced by some sort of contraption that medical science has devised. As I do I will be only be part of the 20% of my fellow Americans that meet the requirements for healthy exercise. What a shame.

Now you say that you think TTG has lost it with all these ramblings. Maybe so, but I choose to say I am looking around at my world and the simplest of things. As I study and research I find there is a whole universe out there waiting to be discovered that is beyond mundane. Complex by its simplicity and obvious by its neglect. Then again you may just shrug your shoulders and I won’t really know what you are thinking. Hope you enjoyed the ride and a break from our mayhem.

As always
Ted The Great.


Shoulder replacement surgery takes about three hours. You are laid up for 4-6 months. The costs all in, can range between $20,000 -60,000 depending on what state you are in. Approximately 7 million Americans a year are affected by some sort of shoulder injury.

There are three bones in the shoulder: Scapula(shoulder blade),Humerus(upper arm) and Clavicle (collar bone), The clavicle is the first bone to start ossifying (hardening) in a human fetus, but is the last to completely develop – often not until the late teens for early twenties. It is the bone most broken by kids.

Broad shoulders do not slope whatever that means. It also denotes the ability to take criticism or assume responsibility. Broad shoulders come to mind when you think of a military honor guard at a funeral or the soldier marching at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Ram rod straight and a steely eye.

Just for fun: Someone sent me this. In a way it is the antithesis of your typical square shouldered hunk. Yet is is something that got to me in a big way and I hope it does you too.

Fueling Up at the BP

Tis the season and an austere group known as LOFO,Loyal Order of The Fat Ones (cigars, not body type) assembled at a den of iniquity called  Churchill’s, in the Brown Palace(BP) Hotel here in Denver.This crowd of reprobates numbered close to a dozen. It’s just good for the soul to smoke a cigar, drink some scotch and tell lies.

I immediately came under fire for sporting  a still sizable bandage on my bald melon. I had MOHS surgery on a squamous cell cancer two weeks ago and still have the stitches in. There was no mercy. Several questioned whether they went deep enough to find gray matter while others asked if it was a frontal lobotomy? I finally shut them all up by claiming their sympathy was fraudulent and besides we were not talking about a vital organ here.

The makeup of this crowd was significant. There were lefts and rights. Big wheels. Not so big wheels. One heads up the Small Business Administration for the Rocky Mountain Region. There was the Body Snatcher who owns a highly successful funeral business here in Denver. Alex calls himself a Blaxican because his parents were black and Mexican. He sells agricultural goods to the Ivory Coast in Africa.There were lawyers, oil men and Wall Street types. There was a great friend who is going to be spending his first Christmas without his dear wife who passed on this year. Another was ecstatic that his son was going to be moving to Denver to start a new job. So many twists and turns.

The conversation was energetic. People switched seats constantly to engage one another. No one was looking around the room to see if there was somebody more important to talk to. That person was right in front of you .We laughed heartily. I mean belly shakers that felt so good right down to your bones. There was no ISIS or Trump or stock markets. No agendas. We just had fun.

As I drove home I thought about my week. I have had interactions with people in the city administration in my quest to clean up the Cherry Creek.  People told me to stay away from this one or that because they were assholes.  Turned out not to be true. Funny how a civil tone and just treating someone like a human being can go a long way. Even more I dwelled on the thought that over the last year I have met a whole raft of people I would never had known if I hadn’t gotten involved. That’s a very cool thing .

Last Saturday my son in law and I drove out about forty miles from Denver to a place called Byers, Colorado. It was snowing and visibility was low but it didn’t matter because there is nothing but open plains to see there anyway. We were going to pick up a new Labradoodle puppy for his kids. Funny, we acted just like kids ourselves.

The breeder told us how she had lost her husband last May. She wanted to talk and the paperwork took far longer than it should have. Impatience could have come spilling out but somehow we thought that we should just let the woman speak about hospitals and doctors and whatever. It was the right thing to do. When we got home the girls were beyond elated. They screamed and giggled and welcomed the new member of the family with proverbial open arms. Life is good.

Sunday evening we fly to London to be with my son and his family. We are beyond thrilled to be able to go there. Nothing crazy or extravagant  but just spending a Christmas in their home even though we will be far away from ours. Seeing how their part of the world lives. My thoughts go not only there but to all the places we have been lately. I wonder what the holiday is like in South Africa or Zimbabwe? What about those kids in the orphanage at Victoria Falls?

Sorry if this all sounds corny to you. I truly hope it doesn’t. I guess I am just lucky, happy and most of all thankful. We all have so much and that is fine. I hope we just realize it and sit down and think about it from time to time. I have had a lot happen this year from surgeries to jumping out of airplanes to walking with lions. Shot a couple of decent rounds of golf and have a great wife and kids and grandkids. On balance I would say I am very much on the plus side.

I will write next from across the pond. I hope I can find a BP just like the one here in Denver. Maybe just sit down and enjoy a Scotch with my son or a glass of red with his wife. Filling stations are great wherever they are. They keep our motors running and the lube bays keep us from rattling or squeaking too badly as we get older. Don’t ever let your gas gauge go down to E . It’s bad for you .

As always
Ted The Great.


None to speak of.

Singing in the Shower

Singing in the Shower.

Theodoro Pavarotti has come to the city. One day last summer, I had come home from the golf course. I was taking a shower and singing a very poor version of some obscure opera. The only resemblance I have to Lucianno  has been my periodic Falstaffian gut.

There is a certain resonance in the shower that really sounds cool. It reverberates off the glass and makes you sound like you know what you are doing. Well, at least to me. This particular afternoon was a gorgeous summer day. Now when you live in the city it is a little different than Cordillera or Arizona. You are really close to your neighbor’s house. And our windows were open.

As usual my next door neighbor, who is a dear friend thought I was nuts. A guy down the street said he didn’t care what people said, he thought I sounded pretty good. It reminded me of an old lady in front of me in church. She said I had a beautiful voice. I said thank you. She said holding her ear, “WHAT?”

I actually took a course in singing at the University of Denver. It was called “Finding Your Inner Voice”. The first day of class had nine all stars and me. They sang with the Colorado Symphony Chorale, various choirs and vocal ensembles. When they got around to me, I had a sinking feeling I was in the wrong place.

Well tough for them. I had paid my money and I was going to do it. I asked to bring a bottle of scotch to class saying I could do a lot better that way. Tempting as it was, the teacher who resembled Carol Burnett in both looks and spirit said we could do that some other time.

I actually pulled it off. Not through talent but my usual ability to BS my way through anything. We had to sing solos in class which was really a kick. Once you got comfortable in your own skin almost anything was possible. Interesting concept.

Emboldened, Kathy and I were at Italian night at the club. They had a fabulous a capella group that could sing anything from rock and roll to jazz. Kathy and I were out dancing and of course I was singing along. Loudly. All of a sudden one of the singers handed me a microphone during their rendition of “The Book of Love”. He said come on up.

I know you will all be shocked that I accepted his offer. My kids ducked. Kathy went to the ladies room and I was finally dragged off the bandstand as I demanded to know where their next gig was. They said they would call me. They haven’t.

This is not the first time I have pulled this stunt. Back east we went to a charitable thing I was running. I decided to get up with the band. The next day a wonderful but really stuffy banker, Eldon Dixon said “Geez Ted, you were really smashed last night”. I said, “Eldon I am really going to scare you. I am on antibiotics and didn’t have a drink all night!”

The fun part about now is I can do things and people don’t know if I am eccentric, crazy or just Ted being Ted. I am just old enough. Maybe all of the above. I don’t kiss up to people nor do I ask them to do so to me.

You would be shocked how many times you can ask something and they will tell you. Catch them off guard. Don’t give them time or think or put up defenses. Don’t worry. Facts and plain old logic will get them every time.

The heart of it is, they can say yes or no. Kathy cringes sometimes when we are dinner guests. I love to throw topics out on the table that are controversial.I call them questions. Kathy calls them hand grenades. I don’t take one side or the other on purpose. I just like to get the ball rolling.

It’s like singing in the shower. You actually sound pretty good…at least to yourself. Have fun. Be crazy. Enjoy life. In a week, chances are no one will remember.

As Always

Pondering the Imponderables

Ted The Great


What are You? Nuts?

What are you? Nuts?
I would love to tell you that no one has ever asked me that question but it would be a downright lie. I take great delight in the outrageous. Maybe if I was younger and had hair it would be purple. I don’t think nipple or nose piercing would be my style.

I do like my creature comforts. Warm and fuzzy ain’t bad. But I really do love being a little outspoken or nutty. The real question is there a little bit of that in all of us? I happen to think there is.

Growing up, conformity was always the norm. Stay inside the lines is the mantra for any child unless he was born to hippies. Sit up straight and fix your tie. What tie? Of course you wore a tie.

Tell your grandmother or aunt how nice she looked even though she didn’t quite fit your idea of heaven and the smell of that old lady powder was suffocating. Especially when they gave you a bear hug. Grandpa or some uncle had hair growing out of his ears. But don’t you dare say a word. Ah yes, I was a perfect child. I always smiled on cue.

I really think I owe my spirit of inner freedom to the Jesuits. I had eight years of them and relish them all dearly. What? You mean I don’t have to agree with you? You were taught to question and internalize a concept rather that repeat it verbatim. It was like I was on crack cocaine. Always have been.

Many times it was a high wire act. You got out there and then said okay smart ass how are you going to get yourself back? That is where I truly developed my expert faculty of the art of bullshitting.

So here I am today and I am really dangerous. To start with, the younger generation loves me because they know they will not get a canned answer. Parents hate me. You told him or her what? It is not only the beauty of youth but for all of us.

There are no right answers. Look at the market today. We have had a myriad of financial experts tell us this or that. Sooner or later they are right but it causes untold angst. I am adding a totally new meaning to the term “Blind Trust”.

I think people are all too willing to be secularized and compartmentalized. They think they are captains of their own ship but really are not. They want to be red and conservative or blue and liberal. I live in a red state that last month was blue. Forget about the fact that the difference is only a few thousand votes.

In other words gang, I am making a New Year’s resolution…. A few days early. I am going to defy description. Imagine that. Maybe I can say some things you would like to. Maybe I can just get people to think.

I now have the blog. You can tell me not to send it to your kids. Not sure I will listen. But always tell me what you think. And if you get tired of it in blog style, you don’t have to look at it. I will never know.

As for being nuts? Come on in. The water is fine.

As always,

Ted The Great